Thank You, Sir Joshua...
Fuck, I don’t even know where to begin this blog. I had one of the best days of my life yesterday. I mean the fucking best. It was amazing from start to finish.
Have you ever had a whole day where you were happy, and a little sad but it was all ok, like you cried multiple times but it felt good because mostly they were happy tears? I can honestly say that I have never had a day like yesterday.
I reviewed the photos last night and none of them captured what I saw and I don’t think there is ever a photo that could capture what I felt.
I left Ojai early after I went to the gym which is unheard of in my world. I typically clear the decks when I am traveling, I just can’t manage the anxiety of getting on the road and meeting commitments. But I wasn’t stressed which is my usual manner of leaving the house for something that should be pleasurable...
The drive was good, no LA traffic which was somewhat of a miracle now that I think about it.
I spent the early afternoon of the day getting lost in tiny thrift and vintage stores in Yucca Valley and Pioneertown. I forgot how much I love the desert. It reminds me of intimacy...like that is how I feel about intimacy. Like there are bazillion grains of sands of intimacy and even if you work at it your whole fucking life, and could count to infinity, only then could you ever truly know the desert well. And that sums up my feelings on intimacy as well.
I met a very handsome man trying on a Stetson hat in Desert Omen. If you are in the area, you have to go meet Evelyn and check out her shit. She is an amazing human being and I kind of fell in love with her and her store. I loved that she was singing Billy Idol when I walked in. I joined her but much more under my breath...Anyway, the guy in the hat. He was a looker and I thank him for the moment we shared when our eyes met. I will never see him again but I always appreciate any moment in the company of a hot guy, to be clear.
Oddly, while I was in Pioneertown, the time machine from back to the future showed up. I mean what are the odds of that? This woman told me she was waiting on the time machine but it was late. And I laughed. I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. I was leaving as it arrived. As there is nowhere in my past that I would like to revisit, while I also have no desire to jump ahead in time, I didn't linger for a closer look. I have worked so fucking hard to live this life in the moment, I am just trying to stay right here, right now. So the time machine was a little lost on me. There did seem to be some takers with the bubbling excitement on the deck of the general mercantile. There was a guy there that wanted to go back and change some things before he left Alaska. I had to stop myself from asking exactly what those things were...I didn’t because it would have been rude...and it also would have meant that I would have had to stand there while he told me while the wind whipped up my dress and I mooned everyone (there were like seven people) in Pioneertown yesterday.
Thanks to Evelyn I got the best sandwich I have literally ever had in my life and had a picnic on a bench overlooking the entire Coachella Valley. It was amazing: the food and the view and I kind of love Evelyn for it. Also for the two new dusters that I acquired while pursuing the hot guy and her store.
Ok, now for the goods...Joshua Tree. I had the presence of mind to decide that I wanted to drive through Joshua Tree listening to Joshua Tree by U2 as I drove. Luckily, in a rare moment of preparation and forward thinking, I downloaded the entire album to my phone. Something I never do but had I not done this yesterday exactly when I did, my whole idea about listening to Joshua Tree while in Joshua Tree would have been foiled. Because for some reason, the entire AT&T network went down just moments after I downloaded the album...No, I do not think my download was the cause but who the fuck knows anymore.
Anyway, back to Joshua Tree. So I threw the top down, it was hot, like 96 but it felt amazing, with a cool breeze. I paid my entry fee (best $30 I have spent in my life so far) and off I went into my own magical mystery tour that was Joshua Tree...
I was lit the fuck up: excited and happy while on the verge of tears the whole time. I know that sounds weird but I was in this bizarre state of euphoria and grief at the same time. I drove the miles and miles of the park, stopping to take photos having this solo experience that I was so happy to be sharing only with myself. I was happy in my own company, contented with my solo-ness. Happy, sad, reflective and introspective.
I will say that the entire U2 album makes more sense now. I saw One Tree Hill several times. I tripped through my own wires all damn day. And I wander without care down streets with no name. Lost and found the whole of the day.
The desert is this amazing world that at first blush seems a bit ugly. Dusty, hot, not a lot to see. But for me, the desert speaks to my soul because if you view it at top speed, you miss the beauty of it entirely. I mean fifty miles of sand and dirt and spiky, thorny outcroppings interspersed among great boulders and surfacings of rock. I mean how much of that can you take in...turns out, I can take it all in, all day long.
Several times I just parked my car and climbed up and stood on my seat, allowing the environs to just talk to me. To tell me the secrets of the dusty dryness. I learned some things, some of which I knew already, but a few items rushed into my consciousness with a vigor that has been absent and lost for some time.
I felt like I returned to my body after being long lost from it. As I drove the begrimed miles, top down, wind sweeping through my hair, I sang U2’s songs over and over again. Lost in 1987, but living in today. I reminisced over my life and how the intervening 25 years have altered me and changed me. I thought back to being at the U2 Joshua Tree concert in 1987 in Tampa, Florida. I remember almost nothing of the night because I was so fucked up. I remember the crowd, the darkness, the music. I remember being there with my roommate Rhonda and my friends, John and Ward. I do not remember anything else...sadly. This memories fall onto the scrap heap of my alcoholism. Lost for good, and looking for them would be like trying to find a particular grain of sand in Joshua Tree. Fucking impossible.
I got lost with myself. After a lifetime of getting lost from myself, I got lost with myself. No cell reception to interrupt the internal narrative, only me, myself and I to wander in the harsh Mojave landscape, alone. And I grew up there. I changed. I landed more squarely in myself than I have ever been. I found myself in the spiny thorns of the landscape. Feeling somewhat like the Joshua Tree. Living in close proximity with others like me, but standing apart, a little distance between me and others. I did not see two Joshua Trees sharing the same physical space. I get that. Really. I do.
I saw all the outstretched arms, moving me forward and through to the westward home that is my life. I had a favorite Joshua Tree. Because that is what I do. I review countless and almost limitless things and pick one. And I do this because I have been wanting to experience that myself the whole of my life. To have someone wade through all of humanity and pick me. And some might argue, that that has happened many times. And they would be right...and wrong. I still haven’t found what I am looking for...but I know a little better after yesterday’s trek through the Mojave.
I learned yesterday that had I not ever bloomed, I would be taller and straighter and less interesting than my current grotesque form. That the well timed rains and hard frosts of my life, indeed were the prerequisites to my own flowering. That had I not been curtailed by rain and cold, I would have lived a more narrow, straighter and perhaps less interesting life. But it was these conditions, these exact conditions, that caused me to flower and bloom. And with those blooms, my limbs were altered, changed, turned upside down and forced to grow in a different direction. And so it is for the Joshua Tree as well.
I may never reach their heights, but I did yesterday if only for a moment. Lost in their residence, their fortitude and strength, appearing sturdy and delicate at the same time. And I related. I found myself there in those amazingly interesting trees. Living in and under conditions that others might find objectionable. Realizing that the whole of my life has been lived the same. Turns and twists and alterations of course, sometimes quite languid and at others austere and barren. Change comes in many forms...it really does matter what it looks like...change in tiny incremental steps, comes for us all.
I think I also know where the dinosaurs went...
I saw their rocky remains, great giant skeletons of rock, carcasses of mountains lost, great stegosauruses of boulders lain wasted on the landscape. I know that it is not a dinosaur graveyard, but nonetheless, I saw them there. The rocky remnants of a distant past. And I felt the loss of those great giants and was reminded again how wondrously beautiful this life truly is. And how everything must come to pass eventually, even me.
I took it all in. All the thoughts, the feelings, the landscape causing it all to come to me in stark relief. Not so gently blowing up and open my protected heart. Cracking me open further, to be emotionally eviscerated again. But this time, there was no pain, only a few tearful pangs. I pulled over each time and bowed my head in quiet supplication for the opportunity to experience Divinity in the dust, the rocky outcroppings and the spiny misshapen Joshua Trees. Life twisted into being, and in so doing, creating a radiating beauty in every mile.
I feel in love with my life again. When I wasn’t even out of love with it before I left. I traversed the landscape of my own soul and was delivered to a place where I had never been before...contentment while seeing the heavy lifting that is to come.
I also felt a renewed sense of purpose and freedom, that this life, this solo journey I am living, is just fine. And I need not worry about the being selected process. Yesterday, I chose me and I realized in so doing that I have done this for the whole of my life, mostly while being distracted by the pursuit of choosing other things.
I fell in love with Joshua while I fell in love with myself. I was content with my life, myself, my internal grotesqueness. My inner gnarledness that has resulted in the beauty of my life. The Joshua Tree forests tell a tale of beauty, resilience and grace under fire, and if I may be so bold as to relate this to my own struggle for survival, I say me too. I too have persevered. And I believe that while my beauty, grace and resilience may be hard to see at times, I have the Joshua Tree as an example. There are many, many things happening that are not visible to the naked eye, lots going on beneath the veneer, no matter how prickly. And so I say me too. I have found myself in God’s country, with and without myself, over and over and over again. Still.